fri 23/02/2024

Album: ¿Téo? - Luna | reviews, news & interviews

Album: ¿Téo? - Luna

Album: ¿Téo? - Luna

Opulent rap-R&B-Latin view of LA decadence

A little remarked fact of modern music is just how lush the sound of modern R&B and adjacent music is. A decade ago, the relative harshness of trap beats and EDM synths seemed to dominate sonically, or on the more bohemian fringes there was a meandering haziness derived from the UK influence of James Blake and Burial.

But now, in the work of artists like Kehlani and Tinashe – and filtering outwards into pop from Billie Elish to Ariana Grande – all of this is folded together, the electronics smoothed into more traditional musicality, and with production that is sometimes as deluxe and as gorgeously tactile as the big-studio glory days of the 1970s and 1980s. 

It’s into this space that Colombian-via-Atlanta-and-LA actor/singer/designer Mateo Arias aka ¿Téo? fits. The songs on his third album range across rap, R&B, traditional and modern Latin sounds and even a little borderline Vegas schmaltz, but are held together by a really glorious opulence as they glide out of your speakers or headphones. It helps that the songwriting is really solid: musically the various genre influences flow into one another with deceptive ease, and even an interpolation of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on the woozy, eerie closer “Bésame” blends into that musical spectrum without difficulty. 

The songs are about power, obsession, love, longing and a lot of sex, all tied together with a narcotic sense of the way wealth and success paradoxically create a dislocated weightlessness and ties that bind – something one suspects ¿Téo?, being a friend and creative partner of Will Smith’s offspring, probably understands well. And that lushness of arrangement and production amplifies that perfectly: kind of how the tuned trap kickdrums and strings in the Succession theme music conjure high drama, but with more rhythmic and songwriting deftness and subtltety. The album sometimes meanders, but as an exercise in sonic and emotional world building it’s the state of the art.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Final Step":

 

 

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters